I still remember the day that I went to see The Passion of the Christ in the movie theater. I was 17 years old and, at that time, I am pretty sure that wasn’t the first choice of movie I would have picked to go see! However, as the final credits rolled, I just sat in my seat and sobbed. My parents were with me and they sat with me for what seemed like hours as I processed what I saw and had such emotions overwhelming my spirit that they flowed out as unstoppable tears. Seeing the crucifixion played out in such realistic detail hit me to the core in a way that I had never experienced before. Sure, I knew the story, and yes, I definitely believed it – after all, Jesus’s death and resurrection is the cornerstone of my faith and I had heard the Easter story my whole life. But until I saw the story visually portrayed (I am a visual learner for sure!) the seriously epic proportions of what Jesus did for us didn’t strike my heart fully.
Seeing the pain that Jesus went through, the crowds that enjoyed and celebrated His suffering, and how much of a burden He carried for me made me feel so unworthy, and yet, so thankful! Because of what Jesus did for me, I have hope in eternity with God the Father. Even though I was and am a sinner, Jesus went through all of that pain out of incredible love for me. At the same time, I felt intense shame burning through me – after Jesus did THAT for me, what on earth was I willing to suffer for Him in return?
I felt the same emotions return this Sunday sitting in church as they played a short video depicting several moments of the crucifixion – the agony of being nailed to a cross, the humiliation of being taunted and the desperation of knowing your death is a mere painful breath away. Jesus went through that for me, and for you. AND He had the strength to go about His short life here on earth knowing exactly what was going to happen in the end.
I have always loved Easter as a holiday, mostly for its symbolic meaning, but also because it signals the start of spring and that we have finally made it out of the clutches of winter (for the most part. I still remember you, April snowstorms!!).
But maybe celebrating Easter IS springtime…a spiritual springtime. Time to thaw out our hard hearts that don’t recognize, or have forgotten, the depth of the gift we have been given in God’s grace and Jesus’s sacrifice. Time to renew our hope and our spirit of joyful evangelism as we share about our Jesus and what He did! Maybe we can stop and let the enormity of what Jesus did wash over us afresh instead of blithely going about our business worrying more about candy and brightly colored dresses.
Have you had a moment in your life when the enormity of Jesus’s sacrifice hit the center of your soul so hard that you were never the same? And how quickly did you let that feeling fade? I know I experience intense emotions when I am in the midst of worship, but let them fade quickly as I step out into my day to day life – I want to change that. Jesus IS my life, and I can’t let that fade away. My eyes will stay on the cross!